Drug and Substance Abuse from a Global Perspective In Africa
Drug and Substance Abuse from a Global Perspective
In Africa, youth and adults, rich and poor, rural and urban people abuse drugs (United Nations Drug Control Program, 1998). They add that drug abuse is more common among men than women but the situation is changing rapidly as substance abuse among women is less visible and more private. It is noted that beer is preferred by younger males but wine is preferred by women, younger drinkers, educated people and those with low illness. Liquor is preferred by males, heavier drinkers, less educated people, middle aged and older people and those who are at a higher risk for major diseases.
Over the recent years many African countries including Botswana, have had an increase in the production, distribution and consumption of drugs and substances with the youth mostly affected. Many of these countries have become markets for drugs as a result of the activities of organization and individual traffickers who use Africa as a transit points in their trade with the countries in the North (Affinith, 2002). Prescription drugs are also abused nearly by those who have access to them like doctors, pharmacists and those working in medical environments. Some people do not wish to have their illness known to other persons including doctors but they have vague ideas of what type of medicine to take. The most commonly abuse drugs and substances in Botswana are alcohol and marijuana.
The global context in the use of drugs indicates the erosion of traditional theoretical boundaries which also affect the beliefs, value systems and perceptions towards use of drugs. The issue of drug and substance abuse is a major headache to societies and authorities from the cities of North America, Latin America and Asia.
Causes and Manifestations of Drug and Substance Abuse in Botswana
A friend or peer group is likely to be the source of information for drug users about the availability of drugs and the alleged effects thus making peer pressure one of the causes of drug and substance abuse in Botswana. Initial drug abuse can be influenced by different people including those who first offer the drugs to nondrug user, for example, siblings and friends. Association with drug-abusing peers is often the most immediate risk for exposing adolescents to drug abuse and delinquent behaviour. However, in an environment with no drug-abusing peers and strong antidrug norms, that child is likely to become a drug abuser (Hawkins and Calatano, 1992).
Peers play a major role in initial drugs use in the non-socialized youth, in the contemporary culture. Through peers, illegal drugs are made available since these drugs can seldom be purchased through ordinary means. The peer group may either supply the drug directly or provide information on obtaining it. Having a large number of drug using friends means that the non-socialized individual has ready access to drugs. The non-socialized youth has no’ internal drive to say no. This gives the peer group a strong predictive strength of prevalence of initial drug use among non-socialized youth.
The peer group may also provide models for drug usage, teaching its members when, where and how to use the drugs. The impact of the peer group will differ for different age groups as a function of the amount of time spent within that group and the extent to which it is free of external controls. Adolescents often function without supervision hence the channels are more open for illegal drug passage. Adolescents are at an age where they like to experiment as such they are likely to experiment because they are curious and want to determine the effects of different drugs and substances for themselves.
School environment also plays a part in deviant behaviour including drug abuse. School activities are a focal point for adolescents` behaviour (Kandel, 1980).Students in schools and colleges as well as other people are individuals with their unique problems and critical issues that can be tackled meaningfully only on individual basis. Failure to address the problem by individual students could result in feelings of hopelessness, hatred, failure and physical weakness. In an attempt to overcome the above mentioned feelings the individual seeks refuge in drugs. Such persons may become social drinkers or drug abusers (Gathumbi, 2003). Karechio (1996) asserts that low performance in class may lead to misuse of drugs such as Marijuana which is believed to improve understanding and insight.
Social occasions account for 35.4% of the reasons for taking alcohol. It mainly affects alcohol drinkers. It is argued that this is due to esteem that most societies associate with taking alcohol at party time. Social occasions also explain reasons for taking other drugs and substances that are abused at a lower magnitude especially among the youth. This is seen during weddings, parties and sessions where most youth indulge in the use of drugs and alcohol. Some are likely to experiment for the first time and later become addicts while trying to fit in with their peers or boost their social esteems.
Influence of Parental Sources of Income on Prevalence of Drug and Substance Abuse among Students
Children from homes whose parents take drugs tend to imitate the behaviour of their parents by taking illegal drugs. Parental drug behaviour, parental attitude about drugs and substances and various aspects of parent child interaction best predict imitation into drug and substance abuse. The availability of cash to students as pocket money and travel allowances especially if it is given in excess can be redirected to purchasing of drugs (Kingala, 2000). Parents can serve a protective faction when there is a strong bond between children and their families, parental involvement in a child’s life, supportive parenting which meets financial, emotional, and clear limits and consistent enforcement of discipline.
Children from poor families have access to chief drugs like liquor therefore making them vulnerable. Divorce or change of economic status from high to low is also likely to affect negatively on children especially the adolescents. This is the period they experience a lot of vulnerability for problem actions leading to liquor because they find comfort in it. Children’s feelings in issues of divorces and separation are hardly taken into consideration because they are just perceived as children who do not know anything while the truth of the matter is that they have feelings and their environment drives them to take hasty decisions they take in life.
Effects of Drug and Substance Abuse on Individuals
Drug and substance abuse is associated with very many problems which include health related problems, violence, truancy, family break ups. Alcohol abuse is associated with poor health, reduced productivity, violence, spread of STD’s and 23 HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, road accidents, child abuse and neglect among other vices (Munyoki, 2008). People, who abuse tobacco suffers from different cancers like cancer of the mouth, throat (NACADA, 2006). Marijuana use can cause memory lapse and also lead to decreased physical endurance (Wagner, 1984). Liver, lung, heart diseases, vitamin deficiencies and brain damage are some of the many complications that occur due to , drug use and dependence (Musk et al; 2003). Taking drugs especially during
According to Ongwae (2016) Drug abuse is now a major public health problem in many parts of the world. It is accompanied by drug dependence. Drug abuse is very harmful because the abusers seek funds for purchase of drugs by committing crimes such as shoplifting, prostitution, robbery, burglary and pick pocketing. Heroin causes physical dependence on the drug such that a person cannot do without it once he is used to it. It also causes tolerance such that an addict needs more and more of it. An overdose of heroine can kill almost immediately. Hallucinations cause very odd, disturbed and unreal situations. In the long run most abusers develop mental illness (Githinji, 1975). Inhalants affect the abuser through the vapour fumes that are inhaled. They cause excitement and encourage violent behaviour. They also result to intoxication, dizziness, slurred speech, inflamed eyes, hallucinations and convulsions. If repeatedly inhaled, they can cause brain damage resulting in death.
Drug and substance abuse is associated with very many problems which include health related problems, violence, truancy, family break ups. Alcohol abuse is associated with poor health, reduced productivity, violence, spread of STD’s and 23 HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, road accidents, child abuse and neglect among other vices Munyoki (2008).
Effects of Drug and Substance Abuse on Education
Good academic performance calls for a healthy mind and body. It is important therefore that the brain be in good working condition all the time. Drugs especially addictive ones affect the brain and nervous system as a whole. Drugs make the dopamine system to be inhibited. Dopamine leads to reduced attention, alertness and learning, (Razmy, et al 2004). A permanent effect in learning abilities of the user is common for those who start using drugs at adolescent stage. Use of drugs causes some areas of the brain not to develop properly leading to learning disabilities. Continued use of drugs leads to loss of memory and judgment. This shows how much drugs and substances do not go hand in hand with academics in all given aspects. A student who is involved in drugs cannot perform well academically because there is impairment of cognitive development which in turn reduces academic achievement and disrupts academic progression. Students who abuse bhang regularly are twice as likely to receive marks below average and drop out of school in the long run
Drugs lead to failure to do assignments due to laziness, low productivity, and inability to work effectively which lower student academic performance. Many drug users are forgetful and can hardly concentrate; it can also lead to loss of short term memory. When drug users take exams their performance is average or below average because they do not remember what they have learned when they were drunk. According to, Wechsler (1995) drug use contributes to students missing class, failing in test and dropping out of school due to poor grades. Drug use may impair memory by slowing down the coordination of information and may reduce student’s ability to remember information that was learned prior to using drugs.
Influence of Location of Schools on Prevalence of Drugs and Substance Abuse among Students
Children in urban areas are more likely to engage in drug and substance abuse of the availability of many things such as money as well as the influence from media. The students in towns are more likely to abuse drugs and other substances as compared to those in the rural areas as noted by (Otieno, et al 2009). The same youth in towns have a different lifestyle as compared to the rural youth. Those in towns are outgoing and like partying a lot so they are more predisposed to drugs as compared to those in rural areas as drugs are more available in urban areas as opposed to the availability in rural areas. (Merton & Nisbet, 1971) note that people use illegal drugs because of their ready availability and promotion of interests of those who are in a position to benefit financially from their sale.
Preventative Measures Against Drugs and Substance Abuse
In order to curb the vice of drug and substance abuse there are necessary measures that needs to be taken. It is of utmost importance that the government puts in place proper enforcement on those who are found abusing drugs and they should be aware of the dangers of it, by parents and individuals in the society. All schools should set up guidance and counselling offices facilitated by professionals to counsel students who indulge in drug abuse. This will help take care of the students with emotional needs that they wish to share in confidence but lack the platform to do so and in return end up turning to drug abuse. Principals also should invite specialists often to talk to students on dangers of drug abuse. Parents and teachers should discourage and be firm in ensuring that the students do not take alcohol which is the most abused in the schools. Parents should handle their issues like breakups in a better manner to avoid hurting the children and avoid conflict with the children which can lead to them engaging in drug abuse. The parents should also ensure they do not give so much money to their children and if they do so they should ensure that the money is put into constructive use. The fact that some students have access to a lot of money tempts them to buy drugs and substances.
The focus for prevention over recent years has been focussed on building the protective factors that make drug abuse or other unhealthy or negative behaviours more likely; addressing the risk factors that can lead to those behaviours; building the resilience of young people to cope with the pressures and challenges they will face; developing the personal and social competence of young people and the “life skills”; considering and understanding the influences upon young people; exploring attitudes and values; promoting opportunities and alternative positive behaviours, and of course building the knowledge and information that is relevant. With this understanding of prevention it becomes clear that our objective in prevention is there focussed not so much on “stopping” but on promoting healthy behaviour, building healthy lifestyles and equipping young people to face and respond appropriately to the challenges they will face not only with respect to drugs but to many other health related issues.
The word that helps make further sense and links these two words “schools” and “prevention” is “education”. Schools and prevention are about education-the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life. This reminds us that key to what we should address in our school prevention work has to include not only what we teach but how we teach it; it reflects the need for an environment where education and learning is part of the school ethos; where what is learnt or taught can be tried and applied; where what is taught and applied is supported and reflected in policies; and where education is seen as something that involves the whole school community which incorporates the inclusion of parents and other stakeholders in the community.
Guidance and counselling programmes are essential in order to help students growing up to be responsible adults. The programmes should offer students peer support group led by their age mates whom they perceive as role models the community should also play a role by spreading prevention messages that will involve parents, peers, role models, media, police, youth servicing agencies, social workers and counsellors.
There are many theories which can be applied to the topic that the scholar is researching on based on what informs this study. In this study the researcher will be using the theoretical framework of social learning by Albert Bandura.
Social Cognitive Theory
This theory was advanced by Bandura (1997). It holds the belief that drug usage represents a learned habit and can be changed by applying learning theory principles. This theory deals with the cognitive and emotional aspects of behaviour, it describes learning in terms of behaviour, environment and personal aspects. Social cognitive theory explains how people acquire and maintain certain behaviour patterns, Bandura (1997). These three factors: environment, perianal and behavioural are responsible for behavioural actions. It also emphasizes expectations we form about the effects of alcohol and other drugs. Individuals who have adequate coping skills and high self-esteem are able to drink at socially acceptable levels and to develop friendship with others who also avoid alcohol abuse. Those with poor coping skills in general for dealing with life problems may turn to drugs and substances to reduce tension, escape from problems and feel better about themselves.
Bandura believes that a person learns by observation, what others do one is likely to practice. Through observation a person may cognitively represent behaviour of others and then possibly adopts this behaviour. This study is relevant to this study because through observation and internalisation students learn to abuse or not to abuse drugs. If on the other hand the behaviour is negatively reinforced like falling sick, losing friends, suspension from school then the behaviour all together becomes extinct. Parents may influence their children’s drinking through both direct modelling of alcohol use (Bandura 1997) and the transmission of parental values about drinking. The theory further hypothesises that the individual’s personal characteristics and personality traits do not directly relate to drug use and deviance, but, in nearly all cases, influence those outcomes only when they affect the interactions between the individual and the primary socialization sources.
There are various variables that have an effect on the usage of drugs and substances by students. The figure below shows the relationship all these variables have with each other.
Independent Variables Dependent Variables
-Students Behaviour Patterns
-Students’ class Participation
-Drugs and substance abuse
-Location of school
-Sources of income
If students abuse drugs such as alcohol, marijuana and tobacco then this will directly impact negatively on their academic performance. Easy access to drugs at home or at school influence whether a student is likely to be an addict and this will bring about results in the classroom setting. Drug makes the students to have negative attitude to learning, failure to do assignments and impaired capacity to reason hence influencing academic performance. Drug also interferes with students discipline leading to loss of learning time doing punishment or under suspension.
Drugs and substances leads to decreased interest in learning, students are unmotivated without goals or objectives and without wish to succeed in anything However, a student’s attitude towards drug abuse, impacted by education and knowledge can contribute to them deciding not to or to take the drugs anyway. The effects of these variables on the academic performance in colleges could also be influenced by peer pressure, sources of income and location of school which are the intervening variable of the study.